Summer Internship Program: Westmoreland and Richmond Counties

westmoreland map

Primary Program Area Focus:   ANR and 4-H

1. Describe your plans for this internship.  (i.e. What specifically will the intern be doing?)

The 10-week position shared between Westmoreland and Richmond Counties will contribute to both the agriculture and 4-H Extension program areas.  The main agricultural focus will be on-farm research and demonstration plots in corn, soybeans, small grains, and vegetables.  Corn, soybean, and small grain variety trials are established annually with a cooperating farmer.  The intern will collect and summarize data necessary for publishing the On-Farm Corn, Small Grains, and Soybean Trials in 2017, all valuable Extension publications that help local growers.  The intern will also be involved with two recently funded grant projects that will work with the vegetable industry in the county.  One will involve weekly monitoring and scouting sweet corn for damaging pests in an effort to develop an IPM program in sweet corn.  The findings will be communicated to the grower, so that s/he can make informed decisions about pesticide use.  The intern will also learn about the Food Safety Modernization (FSMA) Act, recent legislation that establishes minimum food safety requirements for vegetable farmers, by taking irrigation water samples to be tested at Virginia Tech which will help local growers meet the water testing requirements necessary for compliance with FSMA.  In addition to data collection and analysis, the intern will be expected to present results to local growers at field days and/or at other programs.  Since Westmoreland County has a very diverse agricultural industry, the intern will have the opportunity to learn about and assist in troubleshooting production problems in field crops, vegetables, and nursery crops.   

The main 4-H youth development focus will be assisting with 4-H camp, local day camps, and youth activities at the Richmond County Fair.  Preparing for 4-H camps is extensive and will include proper registration and enrollment of participants, planning of programs for the week of camp, teen and adult leader training and developing activities related to the camp’s theme.  The Richmond County Fair hosts youth livestock shows for beef, lambs, goats, poultry and rabbits.  The intern will assist in organizing the livestock shows.  Tasks include set up of the arena, registration of participants, recruitment of a judge and running the show.   Farmer for the Day is a day camp style program that is run from the Richmond County Fair.  The intern will participate in program planning and delivery for Farmer for the Day.  VCE has a booth at the fair that is run by Extension staff and volunteers each evening.  The intern will participate in planning for and running that booth.  The intern may also work with the 4-H agent to provide support for existing long-term 4-H clubs and the volunteers who run those clubs.

Additional activities include:

Participate in Extension program such as:

  • Richmond County Fair – youth livestock shows, youth interview judging, Farmer for the Day
  • 4-H Pizza Camp
  • Water Wizards
  • 4-H Camp

Attend local meetings to gain familiarity with the community.  Examples:

  • Local Board of Supervisors
  • Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association
  • Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Richmond County Fair Association
  • Northern Neck Master Naturalists

2. Describe the knowledge / skills you expect the intern to gain from this experience.

The summer intern will develop an understanding of all program areas of Virginia Cooperative Extension by working with both the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and 4-H agents, as well as by delivering interdisciplinary programs such as Pizza Camp.  The intern will specifically gain experience in conducting on-farm replicated research, including plot design, data collection and data summary, as well as the importance of the results to the farming community.  The intern will learn the steps in diagnosing plant problems in the field, as well as learn how to use resources such as VCE publications, diagnostic labs, and collaborations with Extension specialists to determine the problem and the solution.  The intern will be exposed to and learn about the diverse agricultural industry in Westmoreland County which includes field crops, vegetables, and greenhouse/nursery crops.

The 4-H experience will include learning how to plan and deliver intentional programming that is developmentally appropriate.  Content areas may include leadership, STEM, stewardship, health and wellness, and risk management.  The Extension programming model will be used to develop programs so that the intern can experience how programs are needs-based and begin with the end in mind.

3. How will the intern learn about the breadth of VCE and our various program areas?

The intern position is shared between ANR and 4-H, so s/he will have hands-on experiences in both these program areas.  Additionally, the intern will be expected to spend time with the local FCS Snap-Ed Extension Agent to gain a more complete picture of all Extension program areas.  Currently, neither Westmoreland nor Richmond County are served by an FCS agent.  However, interdisciplinary programs such as 4-H Pizza Camp will expose the intern to some FCS programming and to the Family Nutrition Program.  In addition, the intern will learn the importance of volunteers to Extension programming by working with the Northern Neck Master Gardeners and participating in teen and adult volunteer leader training for 4-H camp.

The intern will also spend time in each office participating in daily operations.  This should reveal the depth and breadth of questions and requests that Extension offices handle daily.  The intern will participate in staff conferences to observe how the dynamic office operations and programming all come together to deliver the mission of Extension.  Additionally, the intern will participate in an Extension Leadership Council (ELC) meeting to learn how stakeholders help to develop relevant Extension programs.